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What Is Active Recovery And Why Is It An Important Strategy?

7th February 2022

7th February 2022

By Beth Shelper

If working out what kind of exercise routine or fitness goal you want to work towards wasn’t hard enough (what with all of the options, strategies and techniques), we’re sorry to break it to you, but to ensure that your recovery is effective and you keep yourself in tip-top condition to maximise your performance, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself with a proper recovery technique, too.

Whilst this could sound pretty daunting (or, if you’re somebody that hates warming down even though you know it’s a necessity) boring, it’s actually a really exciting opportunity to make sure that you’re making the most of your fitness routine.

Whatever recovery routine you decide to pursue, whether it’s active or passive, one thing’s for sure: make sure you’re incorporating The Recover Capsules for the best results. And whilst there’s a huge range of recovery strategies that you can pick and choose from, today we’re talking about active recovery, and running you through some of our favourite active recovery exercises.

What is active recovery?

Active recovery basically describes the technique of recovery through activity. If you’re not sure what recovery through activity means, this refers to the strategy of incorporating a low-level, low intensity workout that follows a particularly strenuous workout or HIIT.

The idea behind active recovery is that this method of post-workout recovery is generally considered more effective than immediate rest (i.e, warming down gently is a lot better for you than plonking your bum down on the sofa immediately). Shame that, really.

This is because by immediately returning to rest, your body is more likely to cease up, with muscles becoming stiff and tight. By immediately entering active recovery (rather than a state of passive recovery… but more on that, later), you are keeping the muscles moving, ensuring that

Active vs passive recovery

If you’re ultra-attentive, you may have noticed that we just mentioned something called passive recovery. Good spot!

As we’ve said, when it comes to recovery techniques, there are a few that you can choose from, but in the fitness world, one of the biggest debates is around active vs passive recovery.

Whilst active recovery describes the method of getting (or rather, keeping) yourself moving after a workout, passive recovery is the complete opposite, and is pretty easy really, as it requires no movement at all.

Whilst initially this sounds pretty lazy, passive recovery is effective in the case of notable injuries (you know, like a broken bone or a strained tendon or ligament), so don’t write off the technique straight away. We just don’t recommend it if you’re trying to find a healthy way to recover and reduce soreness.

Our favourite active recovery exercises

The best thing about active recovery is that you can incorporate the technique really, really easily into your everyday life. We’re more than aware that everyone leads a very busy lifestyle, and some days, an extra twenty-minutes in the gym purely to warm down seems like time that you just don’t have to spare.

So, in order to make sure you can incorporate active recovery into your workout routine every single time you workout, consider perhaps walking or cycling to the gym, taking the stairs back to the showers, or incorporating any type of movement into whatever you’re doing next.

That call you urgently have to take after your gym class? Why not go on a walk whilst taking it. See how easy it can be?

Some great active recovery exercises include:

  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Massages


When you’re feeling sore (or, if you’re reading this pre-workout, and want to avoid feeling sore), definitely start engaging in the active recovery techniques listed above. It’s important to be able to read your body, though.

If you’re feeling a little sore after a particularly heavy leg day, it’s definitely time to take a quick stroll around the block and get that blood flow going. On the other hand, though, if you’re in so much pain that you can’t really walk, or struggle to put any weight on a particular area, you should most probably be engaging in a more passive technique.

Most of all, remember to warm up and warm down… every single time. Take care of yourselves, take your recovery seriously, and keep up the good work, Innermo

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From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more